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Rhino Thandi & Themba DAY 13 - 20h30

Jone Haesslich
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Once again we find ourselves on the eve of planned vet procedures on Themba and Thandi. The build up to these operations is very stressful. Most wildlife procedures require much more planning and thought than actual time we spend carrying them out, but in this case the effort and logistics are double so I have spent most of the afternoon in planning for another big day. Apart from the practicalities of a helicopter, work teams, drugs, vehicles, ropes, water and weather implications, the most important thing is patient preparation.

In this case we can’t do pre-anaesthetic checks and blood tests to see if their kidneys, liver, blood cells, proteins and mineral levels are indicating that they will survive another anaesthetic. All we really have to go on are the observations of the monitoring team on the ground.
In this department Jason has been giving me feedback today but Themba has been lying up for most of the day in a plumbago patch in the same hollow he was in yesterday. Because of his bullish behaviour yesterday I have advised caution and we haven’t been able to assess him at close range as well as I would have liked.

Jason reports that he has spent part of the past 24 hours in the mud wallow and he has been drinking but signs of him eating are not convincing and this combined with his lack of mobility today, is of great concern to us. We will do a final assessment tomorrow morning weighing up the risks vs benefits of a procedure. Thandi has been seen and is mobile as usual so she appears to be stable.

Not a day goes by without the thought of losing one of them crossing my mind. The emotions of the past 13 days lie very close to the surface so even the thought of this happening brings tears to my eyes. We would be absolutely devastated if we lost either one of them at this stage.

Your prayers give us strength of this I am certain because we feel driven beyond what I know we are capable of. I have to trust that those same prayers and positive thoughts apply even more so to them.

Will Fowlds